When you’re learning a new skill, there’s nothing more valuable than the knowledge of those who have done it before you.
Project AWARE recently asked some seasoned divers what advice they wish they’d had before their first dives. We got some great tips about gear, learning to breathe and selecting the right instructor. We’ve compiled some of our favorites below, to help diving newbies have the best possible experience during their first time under the sea.
It’s ok to take it slow
Slow and steady makes for a better and safer diving experience. So remember to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Try to start your dive feeling relaxed. Slow down. Take your time kitting up. There's no panic. If it all feels like it’s getting hectic, stop for a second and enjoy the view. Then calmly start back into getting ready. If you're struggling to put on fins or another bit of kit ask for help. Don't rush yourself for anyone. - Adrian, Ireland
Focus on your own breathing. To breathe gently and slowly for the whole experience. It’s the best tool that you have for controlling your fears. Your fears might not disappear during your first dive, but breathing slowly will help you to overcome them. - Kevin, Argentina
Your skills will improve the more you dive
Like any new skill, diving takes practice. And it will only get better with time.
I wish I knew that one's ability to equalize will improve over time. On my first dive, it took a good 10 minutes to equalize my right ear. I was nervous that it would be just as difficult and painful the next time. But, it took a fraction of the time and I got better over time to the point of it taking a matter of seconds! - Sarah, Canada
You're going to be a little out of breath by the first stop underwater, it feels like you´ve been exercising for a while. At that point, just remember to breathe as you've been taught, take a pause and everything will be alright! Enjoy the view! - Olga, Colombia
It’s ok to put off diving if conditions aren’t ideal
It can be a big disappointment when your plans to go out diving don’t go as expected. But it’s more important to take care of your health and safety, than to get that dive in. There will always be another opportunity to dive!
It’s ok to miss the first dive if the weather is bad. Our first time was in Florida and there were three-foot waves. We wanted to dive so badly that we searched repeatedly for a dive boat willing to go out. We finally found one and not only became sea sick due to the big waves, but also had a difficult time entering and exiting the boat. Waiting a day would have made the first time much more comfortable. - Jim, USA
Divers are stewards of the underwater environment
It’s important for divers to protect and respect the underwater environment.
Sunscreen can be very detrimental to the health of a reef. Before dives and in-between dives, make sure you use eco friendly sunscreen. - Mike, USA
The beauty of the underwater world is mind-blowing but very fragile. We as a dive community are partly responsible for the underwater health. See yourself as a guardian of the undersea because we are sometimes what stands between life and death for the creatures living underwater. - Jasper, The Netherlands
Your fear might melt away, or not - either is ok
When you’re new to diving, it can be a scary and/or exciting experience. Whether you get over your fear right away, or it takes you a little longer, just know that it’s totally normal, and that it’s alright to feel a little afraid.
I would like to have known that even though I had been through certification, I still may be afraid of diving. If I had not had another diver with me to talk me through my first open water dive I may have never tried again. - Eva, USA
You might feel nervous and terrified about going into deep water, but I promise that once you get in, all those fears just disappear. You won't be able to take your eyes off the beauty around you. Don't let your fear stop you from experiencing one of the most amazing things this world has to offer. - Damian, South Africa
Proper gear is key
Diving is a highly technical activity. Having the right gear that fits properly will ensure that you have the best possible experience when you’re underwater.
Always check your exposure suit for holes and any other defects before a dive, especially when diving in cold water. You’ll start shivering sooner and longer. - Matthew, USA
New fins come with shapers you need to remove before wearing! My first home dive after getting certified, my fins both came off at 20m! I was fortunately with a group of friends and very experienced guides from Safari Diving who quickly noticed, captured and re-fitted my fins for me. As we finished the dive and were walking out of the sea onto Playa Chica, the dive center owner whispered to me, so no one else heard, ‘Next time remove the shapers from your fins’! We still chuckle about that 10 years on 😳😂👌 - Paul, Great Britain
Find an instructor who teaches diving out of a love for the sport and who dives regularly in their spare time. They want you to be excited about the sport, not just about taking your cash. As a Divemaster, I see that the enthusiasm from us professionals directly affects the experience of our students. - Troels, Denmark
Get the right clothes and gear for the place and time of year. My first dive ever was in the North Sea during wintertime, wearing a suit that was too thin. I sure could have used some advice on proper gear; it was my first and shortest dive ever. Be prepared! - Stephen, France
The beauty of the underwater world makes it all worth it
Regardless of anything else, one thing’s for sure--diving is a totally transformative and beautiful experience unlike any other.
Had I known how beautiful it was underwater, the freedom of floating freely and the excitement of visiting a whole other world, I would have started sooner. - Doug, USA
I wish I would have known that my ocean dives were going to be way better than that first day in the pool. The ocean was a completely different experience and the animals were so fascinating, they distracted me and prevented me from worrying. - Maigan, Australia
That diving gets better the more you do it. Before I joined my first diving course, I was thinking that three days of continuous diving could get boring. But I was completely wrong. Diving is truly a magical experience and it just got better with every dive. Waiting to dive again soon! - Amantrika, India
Thanks to everyone who sent in tips for first time divers; we loved reading every one of them. Happy Diving!